Since the establishment of its Middle East operations in 1976, Sobha has developed more than 450 properties comprising more than 75 million square feet. An expansive community project located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sobha Hartland is a mixed-used development centered in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, 3 kilometers outside of Burj Khalifa. The centrally located luxury residential community also offers close proximity to the Dubai Mall, is just 6 kilometers from the Dubai International Financial Centre, and is only a seven-minute drive from the Dubai International Airport.
Sobha Hartland encompasses 8 million square feet, 40 percent of which is lushly landscaped gardens, parks, cycling trails, and walking paths. Its residential facilities include 282 villas ranging from 6,259 to 17,000 square feet. Available in 18 floor plans with four-, five-, and six-bedroom residences, the Hartland Villas feature a contemporary L-shaped design that creates a courtyard-style backyard. Additionally, Hartland’s six-bedroom “signature residence” villas include gyms, cinemas, and driver and maid rooms.
Nestled in the center of the community, Hartland Garden Apartments reach up to eight stories and contain studio, and one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Sobha Hartland also features both one- and two-bedroom duplexes, and each apartment unit includes either a balcony or yard.
In addition to a focus on sustainability and an expanse of green spaces, Sobha Hartland features several resources and amenities that elevate it beyond a traditional residential development, creating a complete, family-oriented community. Hartland features mosques, health clinics, office space, and two international schools. Additionally, it offers residents access to the Hartland Club and is equipped to welcome guests at three luxury hotels complete with spas.
In 2014, Dubai’s hotels welcomed over 11.6 million visitors, a 5.6 percent increase over the year before, according to recent figures released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The growth was driven by a number of developments. Tourism from nearby Saudi Arabia remained high, with other markets, including China, Iran, the UK, and the U.S., contributing significant numbers of visitors, as well. China was a particularly large factor in the growth, as 24.9 percent more Chinese tourists booked hotel stays in 2014 than in 2013.
Dubai’s tourism industry has been working to diversify the source markets of its visitors in an attempt to hedge against political and economic instability in any given region. The director general of the DTCM noted that the growth occurred in 2014 despite fewer visits by Russian tourists. One factor that contributed to the growth may have been a court ruling that citizens of 13 countries in Europe did not require a pre-entry visa to visit the United Arab Emirates.
The increase in tourism has led to corresponding growth in hotel space, with nearly 8,000 rooms and 46 new properties opening in 2014. Despite the increase in supply, revenue for the industry was up 9.8 percent overall, with room revenue rising 12 percent.
In the last few years, customer expectations have dramatically changed the experience at luxury hotels. As customers demand a more streamlined, personalized experience, hotels struggle to deliver services that anticipate guests’ needs. Historically, hotels provided reactive service, meaning that they responded to requests from customers. Today, however, hotels are increasingly looking to deliver a real-time, personalized experience based on predictive analytics. The changing face of hospitality is not the same for each customer. Instead, it changes based on his or her needs and expectations.
Hospitality professionals have already seen a great deal of change in the ways in which guests check in and out of their rooms. Mobile technology has made tedious lines obsolete. Now, guests can check in while still in the taxi from the airport or by using a tablet as they are escorted to the room. Similarly, hotel employees can check out guests while escorting them to a taxi and simultaneously access real-time flight and traffic information to make the experience as streamlined as possible.
Technology allows hospitality professionals to collect an unprecedented amount of information about guests and their preferences. Smart phone apps, social media profiles, and even lobby sensors all deliver important insights about guest expectations and behaviors. This information has necessitated changes at the fundamental, strategic level. More so than ever before, the guest must be at the heart of company strategy.
Throughout the years, The Star has earned recognition as one of the foremost luxury hotels in Australia. Located in the heart of Sydney, The Star features fine dining establishments such as BLACK by ezard.
Inspired by contemporary food stylings from Europe and the United States, BLACK by ezard offers a number of signature seafood dishes, including king prawns in seaweed butter and kingfish with salsa verde and a fennel salad. BLACK by ezard also prepares a variety of wood-grilled meat dishes, such as a 600-day grain-fed wagyu striploin and a grass-fed rack of lamb.
To supplement its food menu, BLACK by ezard offers a highly acclaimed international wine list, complete with 1,000 wines from some of the top wine-producing regions in the world. In addition to sophisticated signature cocktails and classic drinks, the bar features an extensive spirits list with many rare bottlings from across the globe.
Sobha Developers Ltd. has undertaken a number of residential and commercial projects in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, such as the Dubai Marina Yacht Club (DMYC). The project included a control tower and two floors of restaurants and lounges. Sobha completed all construction, interior fit-out, and landscaping while managing 48 vendors.
Since it opened in 2008, DMYC has become one of the leading private yacht associations in the region. As the centerpiece of four marinas with the capacity to house over 500 yachts, the state-of-the-art facility strives to provide members with a five-star luxury experience. In addition to casual and fine dining restaurants overseen by award-winning chefs, the club offers amenities such as conference rooms, cigar lounges, changing rooms, and showers. Members enjoy exclusive events, including boat rallies, seminars, and workshops, which are often held in partnership with local businesses.
The Dubai Marina Yacht Club also serves as home to the Cruising Club, which organizes outings to popular yachting destinations in the region.
Millennials are now the fastest growing customer base for hospitality providers. By 2025, this generation could represent half of all travelers worldwide. This estimate is important for hospitality professionals because millennials expect more from their accommodations than other generations. Raised in a tech-savvy world, they look for service backed by innovative, reliable technology, as well as empathy and customer connection.
For many millennials, technology is an essential part of life. Social media networks like Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Twitter serve as major hubs for conducting research and sharing data. Hospitality professionals need to understand and engage with this generation’s technology expectations, which encompass everything from payment to dining.
The millennial generation has concerns that are very distinct from older generations. Hotels can engage millennials by recognizing and catering to these distinct sub-sets, such as the “foodies,” who want an authentic, gourmet dining experience at a reasonable price. Other important subsets include the LGBT community and cultural buffs.
Many millennials prefer a unique, inspired experience when it comes to hospitality. Last year, more than half of millennial travelers stayed at independent hotels.
For a long time, airlines received recognition as the drivers of innovation in the travel industry. In more recent years, online travel companies and their digital tools have taken over as the primary driving force. Now, the global hospitality industry is pushing travel forward as it rethinks technology, customer experience, and design. As travel increases around the world, customers are turning to online booking tools to make reservations, a phenomenon that has pushed hotels and resorts to completely redesign and retool themselves to meet the needs of their guests.
Self-service and mobile technologies have fundamentally shifted the ways in which customers and companies relate and interact. The hospitality industry now leads the charge in meeting customers where they are, by changing everything from the way we check in to a hotel to the entertainment available in the lobby.
Starwood Hotels, for example, has begun to offer mobile keyless entry into rooms, thereby eliminating the need to issue key cards and preventing people from locking themselves out of the room, provided they remember their smartphone. Additionally, Starwood has offered flash deals to customers who connect using mobile technology.
Similarly, Marriott International introduced PlusPoints, which encourages customers to connect with the brand via social media. In addition, PlusPoints allows customers to engage LocalPerks. By having the Marriott app open, customers can ping geo-located beacons around hotels for special deals. PlusPoints is also connected to a FlashPerks program that allows customers to turn reward points into digital currency to purchase special experiences, such as a Porsche test drive.